September 10 (Thurs) – September 20, 2015 (Sun)
Sannga | Japanese textiles, crafts and arts
theArtisan Building, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sannga’s inaugural exhibit:  
1,000 years of craft tradition as interpreted by eleven young Japanese artisans showcasing their innovative execution of technique


monomo is pleased to present the handcrafted works of eleven Japanese artisans. Designed to display the complete beauty of ancient craft traditions, their pieces are exceptional hand-made objects with modern innovations of ancient techniques. We include two collaborations, one between artisan and artist to broaden artistic communication, another between artisan and product designer to bring new functionality to a sophisticated audience.

monomo is a purveyor of exceptional craftsmanship and mindful living, offering rare pieces of unique beauty. monomo is also an international production agent, a bridge for production collaboration between Japanese traditional artisans and non-Japanese creators. With access to over 100 artisanal studios all over Japan, this exhibition showcases a variety of Japanese techniques and traditions.

Designers, artists and producers who are interested in future collaborations with traditional Japanese artisans now have an opportunity to observe the craft techniques up close.

All pieces are available for purchase at the end of exhibition.


The exhibition aims to examine how we understand worldly phenomenon through art while exploring the flexible boundary between functional craft and expressive art. Through years–even decades–of painstaking study and practice of centuries-old craft traditions, these artisans produce work that is essentially technically perfect. Yet their personal filters and attitudes, spiritual awareness, and understanding of “self” imbues the finished product. The exhibit invites us to refocus our attitudes toward art and craftsmanship, ancient technique and personal expression.

About the Artisans

Featured Artisans:

Shuji Nakagawa is a successor to the fine tradition of Kyoto kioke (木桶) woodcrafting. His traditional Japanese bucket-making expertise—passed down from his grandfather and father—uses a traditional method dating back some 700 years. Although handmade wooden buckets are almost extinct in the face of industrial plastic containers, his iconic pieces are internationally recognized by his refined technique and innovations. Today his vessels serve many modern purposes; his designs including stools, champagne coolers and beautiful objects for everyday life. He continues to explore the boundaries between art and craft, moving between designer, artist and artisan while breathing fresh life into this fading tradition with exceptional craftsmanship.

Akihisa Yamamoto is descended from four generations of kagami-shi (鏡師)—traditional mirror craftsman of Kyoto—and is rumored to be the last remaining makyo (魔鏡) “magic mirror” maker in the world. In Buddhist and Shinto traditions, mirrors are used to symbolize seeing the truth that is your self. The front of a magic mirror is solid polished bronze, forming an extremely good mirror, though it shows no sign of another image. When a beam of light hits the mirror and its reflection is directed onto a flat surface, a hidden, shadowy secret image appears. Magic mirrors were historically used by the "Hidden Christians" in Japan (especially in Kyoto) in the mid-16th century as a secret sign of their faith, carrying an image of the Holy Cross or Christ, during a time when Christianity was prohibited in Japan. Yamamoto is motivated to create art rather than create products, striving to preserve the spiritual energy his mirrors have and the original sacredness of the craft and technique.


Ishikawa Urushi Studio (Japanese natural lacquer) & Masahiko Tanoue (Product design)

Sachiko Matsuyama, the exhibition’s curator, carefully guided this exclusive collaboration between the extraordinary designer and artisan. The piece consists of four large, usable plates and aims to find its place between functional craft and fine art. It also questions the definition of handicraft by using 3D printing technology to form the core board, which still requires careful human precision. The plates are coated with a natural and traditional lacquer technique that involves polishing by hand again and again to achieve the near mirror-image reflectivity.

Exhibit Artisans:

  • Shuji Nakagawa (Wooden vessels)
  • Akihisa Yamamoto (Mirror work)
  • Ishikawa Urushi Kogei (Japanese natural lacquer) & Masahiko Tanoue (Product design)
  • Norifumi Fujisawa (Gold leaf gilding) & Sai (Embossed art), directed by Shingo Yamasaki
  • Ken Ota (Japanese parquetry)
  • Chiemi Ogura (Bamboo weaving)
  • Maki Oida (Akae ware—red painted porcelain)
  • Yukiko Asano (Sometsuke ware—blue and white painted porcelain)
  • Wataru Myoushu (Pottery)
  • Yuya Hoshino (Photography)

The Venue

Sannga is the first overseas presence of Tokyo-based apparel company Yamma Sangyo. Yamma Sangyo creates apparel made from aizu momen, a traditional cotton weave known for its craftsmanship, durability and comfort. International demand for aizu momen clothing has brought Yamma Sangyo to New York to share this traditional Japanese trade.

In addition to Yamma’s textiles, Sannga hosts monthly exhibits of Japanese artisanal trade, arts and crafts.

General Information

Title:    Artisan Reflections: Beyond Craft Technique
 Dates: September 10 (Thurs)  –  September 20, 2015 (Sun)
Venue: Sannga | Japanese textiles, crafts and arts
theArtisan Building, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Address: 109 South 5th St. #104, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Special Exhibit Hours: Mon - Sat 11am - 7pm | Sun 12pm - 6pm
Produced and Curated by: Sachiko Matsuyama, monomo ltd.
Inquiries & Press Contact Details: Sachiko Matsuyama | (347) 735-6971 | +81-80-5059-2000
Public Relations: Jessy LeClair, monomo ltd.